States Sue to Cancel Biden’s Pause on US Oil and Gas Lease Sales | Climate change news
The 13 Republican-leaning states are seeking a court order ending the moratorium imposed by US President Joe Biden in January.
Thirteen states on Wednesday sued the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden to end the suspension of new oil and gas leases on federal lands and waters and to postpone canceled sales of leases in the Gulf of Mexico waters. Alaska and the western states.
The Republican-leaning states, led by Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, are seeking a court order ending the moratorium imposed after Biden, a Democrat, signed climate change orders on January 27.
The lawsuit specifically seeks an order directing the government to proceed with a sale of oil and gas leases in the Gulf of Mexico that was scheduled for March 17 until it is rescinded; and a lease sale that was slated for this year in Cook Inlet, Alaska.
And that calls for further sales of suspended leases to continue. Sales were also postponed for federal lands in Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, Montana, Oklahoma, Nevada and New Mexico.
Biden and several federal agencies bypassed comment periods and other bureaucratic steps necessary before such delays could be undertaken, states in the lawsuit, which was filed Wednesday in the Western District of Louisiana Federal Court, say.
The lawsuit notes that coastal states receive significant revenues from onshore and offshore oil and gas activity. Stopping the leases, the lawsuit said, would decrease revenues that fund Louisiana’s efforts to restore coastal wetlands, increase energy costs and lead to major job losses in oil-producing states.
At a press conference, Landry accused the Biden administration of “effectively banning oil and gas activities that support businesses, employees and our workers and, importantly, fund our coastal restoration projects.”
Although Landry and supporters of the lawsuit have said the moratorium has already pushed up prices and threatened jobs in the energy sector, Biden’s suspension does not prevent companies from drilling on existing leases. But a long-term halt in oil and gas sales would dampen future production and could hurt states like Louisiana that are heavily dependent on the industry.
Biden’s team argued that the companies still had plenty of undeveloped leases – nearly 14 million acres (6 million hectares) in the western states and over 9 million acres (3 , 6 million hectares) at sea. The companies also have about 7,700 unused drilling permits – enough for years.
“It will not affect oil and gas production or jobs for years to come,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said when asked about the trial allegations during a press briefing on Wednesday.
Administration officials declined to say how long the pause on lease sales will last.
Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah and West Virginia are the other complainant states.
Western Energy Alliance, a Colorado-based industry lobby group, filed a lawsuit for the rental suspension in Wyoming federal court on the same day the announcement was made. The Biden administration had not responded to the complaint on Wednesday.
The US Department of the Interior is hosting a live forum on the leasing program on Thursday, as it examines changes that could affect future sales and how much companies pay for the oil and gas they extract. A report outlining the first results and next steps of the review is expected in mid-2021.